5 Essential Blues Boxes

Blues Soloing Without Scales

You’ll never sound like Stevie Ray Vaughan using blues scales. That’s because he didn’t study or play scales to get his sound. He studied and played licks. There’s a big difference.

Many of the licks he played can be captured in 5 simple shapes. They’re not scales, just guidelines. This is a shortcut (and it’s not for everyone) but if you can’t make your scales sound great, you might be working too hard.

Lesson Details


This lesson introduces the concept of the 5 Essential Blues Boxes, doing a brief explanation of what each box sounds like.

Common Questions

Lesson 2 addresses some common questions about this approach to soloing. Specifically how it relates to scales, etc.

Box 1: The Root Box

Go in-depth with Box 1.

  • Hear the many sounds that come out of Box 1

  • Most common use for each note in the box

  • ‘Hidden’ notes and ’Auxiliary’ notes that switch the sound of the Box

Box 2: The Albert King Box

An in-depth look at Box 2.

  • Learn how Albert King’s sound is created in this box.
  • Where to bend, where to land

  • Hidden note that changes the sound of the Box

Box 3: The B.B. King Box

An in-depth look at Box 3.

  • Learn how this box is crucial to capturing B.B. King’s sound.

  • Learn where to bend, where to land licks.

  • Learn how to use “Auxiliary” notes to add more tension to licks in Box 3.

Box 4: The Clapton Box

A brief look at Box 4.

  • Learn the primary way that Box 4 is used.
  • Learn how to play Box 2 licks in Box 4 for a slightly different tone.

Box 5: The Major Root Box

An in-depth look at Box 5.

  • Learn why I call it the Major root box
  • Learn how this Box relates to Box 1
  • Learn why this box has shaped the sound of so many ballads.

The Backdoor Pattern

This lesson introduces a repeating pattern of notes that we can use at 4 different places to ascend the fretboard, landing in a different Box based on where we start.